The Key Smythe Families of Tudor England
Thomas Smythe - the confusion over this name.
The first name - Thomas - and the family name, Smythe/Smyth/Smith and Smithe plus the fact that there were several by the same name moving in powerful circles as contemporaries - and all of them at some time resident in the London area (Westminster, for Thomas Smythe of Essex) - has led to some confusion in researching this name over the years. For a long time, the histories of several became melded into the story of one - Thomas Smythe of Essex. Investigation reveals quite different careers among these men - all of whom led fascinating and active public (and private) lives.
Smythe - the name.
Smith, Smithe, Smyth and Smythe ... the Dictionary of National Biography for these three families, spells the surname as Smith in every case. The y and e are archaic spellings and not a modern distinction. In the 1500s and 1600s there were several (Smiths/Smythes) of note - of Essex, Wiltshire and Berkshire. There was also a Smyth branch in Yorkshire which is reputed to have had a forebear, William Smithdike, who was apparently the father of Thomas Smyth, of Yorkshire. Some members of this Smyth family moved to and settled in Ireland. Smithdike is thought to have had some connection with the court of King Henry VIII - further research of Henry’s reign may eventually locate new information on the Smithdike ancestry.
Three Main Families

Ancestor Index Ancestor Index


The Smythe family of the entrepreneurial London merchants and financiers with roots in Wiltshire who acquired estates in Kent and hearts and minds in foreign trade. This is the line of "Customer Smythe" - the great Elizabethan, founding line of Virginia, USA. The Smythe family of the protestant Cambridge classical scholar, prolific writer, legal expert, M.P. and privy councillor who was born and died in Essex but travelled widely and attempted a colony in Ireland. He left no living sons.
(Details available via Essex link left.)
The Smythe family of the Oxford scholar and M.P. whose whole life seems to have been spent in England in Berkshire, Oxford, London, Westminster and Rutland.